Opinion: Commentary: Four Score and Seven Years… Well, Almost Four Years Ago Today

Opinion: Commentary: Four Score and Seven Years… Well, Almost Four Years Ago Today

When you elected me Mount Vernon District Supervisor almost four years ago, I made many commitments to the people who live, work, learn and play in this awesome, diverse, thriving community we call home. We have much to celebrate in the Mount Vernon District (MVD) from our history and heritage, to our arts, parks, schools and employment opportunities. Today, I am reporting on what my team (TEAM MVD) and I have done, particularly over the last year, to keep these promises to you.

Community engagement has been a high priority of mine and we continue to look for ways to increase our communications with you. You can find out about a wide variety of topics and happenings in the MVD and the County by subscribing to our newsletters, checking our website, following us on Facebook and Twitter, and by signing up for your neighborhood Nextdoor social network. We also get out into the community almost daily to meet you, including attending Homeowner’s Association, civic group, religious group, chamber and public meetings. Each year, we host the annual Mount Vernon Town Meeting and send a work summary mailer to every household, as well as organizing many other community events. Check out our website for upcoming events and hope to see you there!

On the transportation front, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is coming to the Richmond Highway Corridor. Combined with the continued widening of Richmond Highway, the BRT will increase transit options, take more cars off the road and improve motor, pedestrian and bike safety along the Corridor. We are working with the National Park Service and Congressman Don Beyers’ office to improve safety on the George Washington Parkway through a new study. In many communities, we continue to work to add sidewalks and trails for safety and to improve neighborhood streets, whether it is roadway restriping for bikeways or initiating traffic calming studies to determine how to improve residential street safety.

Everyone knows Fairfax County has an excellent primary and secondary school system, and college opportunities abound. Providing new lifetime learning opportunities and revitalizing Original Mount Vernon High School (OMVHS) are priorities of mine. Opening OMVHS for senior and teen activities, as well as a school registration office are just the first steps. The master planning continues for future uses at OMVHS, with a major goal of providing additional educational and business incubator opportunities. Our partnership with Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) to develop educational and career certification programs at OMVHS is greatly advancing this goal and will position the local labor force to compete for Amazon HQ2 jobs, as well as keep and draw young, high-tech workers to the MVD.

Many initiatives are underway to increase economic development in the MVD. Planning continues for Embark Richmond Highway which will bring a multimodal future to the Corridor, encouraging walkable, livable, 21st century communities. Our Strategic Economic Development Team (SEDT) and our Tourism Task Force meet regularly to increase business development and integrated tourism opportunities in the MVD. The Workhouse Arts Center is expanding its offerings, while simultaneously, the Lorton 2040 Visioning Task Force has begun meeting to map out the future of the southern part of the MVD. Have an opinion on what Lorton should look like in 2040? Take the survey today. In addition, I have helped bring about a proposal to build a SnowWorld indoor ski and snow facility on the I-95 Landfill between the Workhouse and Occoquan Regional Park.

Environmental efforts have become a priority in the County, spearheaded by my Fairfax Green Initiatives Board Matter adopted unanimously by the Board of Supervisors in February. Highlights of the initiatives include the County’s new Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination and the launch of a Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP). Simultaneously, the County and Schools formed the Joint Environment Task Force (JET), of which I am a founding member, to accelerate sustainability initiatives and goals between our entities. On a very local level, the MVD Governmental Center now has its own Purple Bin for glass recycling and new natural landscaping in our gardens. Watch for much more to come on environment and energy efficiency issues in the coming months!

Annually, we pass a balanced County budget with full funding for our schools, while also making prudent savings, increasing our budget reserves and identifying effective cost savings efforts. We helped drive the opening of our local Domestic Violence Shelter, initiate and adopt the reports of the Affordable Housing Resources Panel and the Embark Housing Advisory Group, complete the design and funding for the Lorton Community Center and Library, engage in the County’s comprehensive strategic planning, kick off the Grist Mill Master Planning, complete the Huntington Levee, and even get a new bus shelter at the Cherry Arms Bus Stop, to name a few.

I am excited by all we have accomplished, and all we have yet to do. We continue to work on funding for undergrounding utilities along the Richmond Highway Corridor, completing the design of the South County Police and Animal Shelter, advancing Natural Landscaping and other environmentally friendly actions. This fall, we are officially dedicating the South County Center as the Gerry Hyland Governmental Center, and anticipate breaking ground on the North Hill Workforce Housing Units, updating the Workhouse Arts Center’s proffers to bring in more partners and completing the Urban Design Guidelines for Richmond Highway.

It has been my pleasure to represent you and I am excited by all the opportunities for us to continue working together. To find ways to connect with us on social media, receive our newsletter and see a full list of these accomplishments and more, visit our website: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/mountvernon.